An outing on two bikes

Our older kids ride their own bikes in our neighborhood, but longer outings on their own bikes are usually saved for the weekend when there are two parents around. Our 8yo had an opportunity to ride her own bike for a recent outing.

First up: the swimming pool. 3.2 miles, 150 feet up, 250 feet down

One of the little boys had a makeup swimming lesson. I’ve always toted 8yo on my bike to the pool, because she usually needs to swim when she’s there. This time she was game to ride her own bike.

The route was mostly the Proposed Rose Hill greenway, which is quiet and pleasant. Then we climbed up to the 100th St bike/pedestrian/emergency vehicle bridge over I-405. The switchbacks to the bridge are difficult with a cargo bike or trailer (or both) but no problem for this girl on her little bike. She waited for me at the top, then chugged up the steep hill to the pool. So far so good.

switchback ramp is a real pain with a cargo bike

Next: downtown Kirkland. 1.9 miles, 320 ft down

First we had to get to the Cross Kirkland Corridor. There’s a super super steep downhill to meet the trail at 12th, or a less steep but busier downhill to meet the trail at 7th. I chose the less steep, because I don’t like riding down that steep hill. And we didn’t meet a single car, so it was definitely the right choice today. From the trail we had to get into Kirkland. Once we got to Kirkland Way, we rode side-by-side in the car lane because I don’t like the door zone bike lane. Then a short stretch of sidewalk to the bike shop where we dropped off the bikes and walked for the rest of our errands.

She also tried out this sweet little Giant city bike. She hasn’t completely outgrown her current bike, but she’s getting there, and this was a nice fit. I’m not sure I want to jump on it yet – she’s just gotten to where she can ride all of our hills, and this bike is heavier because it’s bigger. We’ll see.

Finally: home. 3.1 miles, 450 feet up, 50 feet down

The ride home is a serious climb. Part of it is known as the Kirkland Kicker on Strava. She did the climb from the CKC to home a few weeks ago, but this was the first time she rode the whole way from downtown Kirkland. The climb is mostly straight up Kirkland Ave, and at the end of that there’s a corkscrew ramp to climb to the 80th St bike/pedestrian bridge. After crossing I-405, most of the climbing is done, which is good because she was D-O-N-E.

8.2 miles. 600 feet up and down. I’m excited that she’s able to ride more and more on her own.

Michelle’s 2016 Errandonnee part 1

My Errandonnee started this year not with an epic trip like Mark’s, but with our usual routine.


Errand #1: a trip to ride my horse

On Friday morning, before anything else, I rode my bike to ride my horse. Then I rode home, and when I got home I put my helmet in the helmet basket and discovered that it was my helmet for riding my horse, not my bike. Fortunately, we have an extra adult-sized helmet around, so I didn’t need to go back right then.

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Possible category: personal care

Distance: 2 miles

Kids toted: zero, because personal care



Errand #2: greenway ride and coffee


We met with some fellow bike advocates to show them the proposed greenway in our neighborhood, then rode into Kirkland for “coffee.” Our 7yo rode where she could, and she rode onboard while I towed her bike where it wasn’t safe for her to ride.



Photo by Blake Trask


Possible category: social

Distance: 5 miles

Cumulative distance: 7 miles

Kids toted: 2, then 3

Cargo: diaper bag, entertainment for kids in the coffee shop, and a bike, part of the way




Errand #3: thrift store shopping


Possible category: store

Distance: 8 miles

Cumulative distance: 15 miles

Kids toted: zero, I got to shop by myself

Cargo: large bag of purchases



Errand #4: church


This is our favorite ride. It’s low-stress, flat, and we have covered parking right on the plaza in front of the church. This was key this week as it was pouring while we were loading to go home. Then the sun came out on the way home, so we totally could have had a donut and waited it out.


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Blurry photo by Mark while riding


Possible category: non-store errand

Distance: 2 miles

Cumulative distance: 17 miles

Kids toted: 3



Errand #5: back to the barn


I wore my riding helmet back to the barn and retrieved my bike helmet after my ride.



Possible category: Personal care

Distance: 2 miles

Cumulative distance: 19 miles

Kids toted: zero



Errand #6: double appointments


Two kids have weekly appointments in the Crossroads area of Bellevue. I am so glad that they overlap. Sometimes we bike, sometimes we bus (occasionally we drive and that stinks), and this is Errandonnee week, so the bike it was.


Possible category: Personal business, non-store errand



Errand #7: library


We do the weekly library drop off/pick up while in Crossroads. We also eat lunch in the food court, and this time some of the kids rode the kiddie carousel. Then we went to the bookstore for a birthday gift, but I’m only counting the library.


Possible category: Personal business, non-store errand, you carried what?!

Distance: the whole trip is about 14 miles

Cumulative distance: 33 miles

Kids toted: 4! Two on board, two in the trailer

Cargo: library books, lunch, diaper bag, school books, books and toys for kids while waiting, huge bag of rain gear just in case, two stuffed animals, baby carrier (so glad I had it)


More to come!

Going to the park by bike

We go to the park often, and have many parks that we love that are within biking distance of our house.

Here is a recent trip to the castle park. We were meeting some friends there around 11, and planning to have lunch there. This park is close enough that the 7yo is on her own bike, so I didn’t have a trailer for cargo. Here’s how I packed the bike:

In the basket: three soccer balls, two baseballs, five sun hats, two locks, two baby carriers (because two babies, natch), purse, item to return to friends, plus the summer accumulation at the bottom of the basket.

Left bag: knitting bag, picnic blanket, portable folding potty (not visible)

Right bag: diaper bag (that did not contain sun screen.. I wonder where that went), lunch bag. Also pictured: hand and left handlebar of 7yo and her bike.

And here we are at the park!

So I dumped the bike over and spilled my kids on the ground.

Here’s a question I occasionally get: is it easy to balance? Answer: yes, once it’s in motion. It’s the getting started and the stopping that’s tricky. When I started riding this bike, I was really worried about tipping it over, and then it happened. And we are all okay. Learn from me, but you’ll do it too.

1. The gutter is a bad place to stop (also a bad place to ride). Roads are “crowned,” meaning they slope down from the middle to the edge. They are not flat. I don’t know this, but it really seems like the edge is the steepest. The first time I dumped the bike, I had pulled over to the side of the road so I could help a sleeping baby whose head was lolling. I got off the bike just fine, but while I was putting the center stand down, the bike tipped away from me (the direction of the crown) and then it was gone, the kids were on the ground, and the baby was awake.

2. A heavy load gets squirrelly on under-inflated tires. We were leaving the park, where the first thing I had to do was make a 90-degree corner onto a narrow sidewalk. The bike was swerving all over, so I missed the turn, overcorrected, and spilled the kids in front of a bunch of people who had been asking me about my bike. I made the kids walk until we got to where I’d have more room to maneuver, and two miles later, a half mile from home, I had a flat and we walked the rest of the way.

3. It’s more damaging to the ego than anything else. We stopped for a 1000-mile selfie on a little hill. I rocked the bike off of the center stand, and lost control of it, and there were kids on the ground again.

Which brings me to our most recent incident, last Saturday. First I got a wobble I couldn’t control, for our first fall while moving (slowly, we were going around a corner). Then, about a half mile later, I pulled over in front of the parish rectory, which happens to be at the top of the hill, to disconnect the bike I was towing so our now-7yo could bike the rest of the way home. I stopped right there next to the gutter, and, well, see #1.

And then our parish priest worked me into the homily. Humility. It’s good for you.

Kirkland: Missing Connections… Opportunities… Business

Last Saturday I took the babies in the trailer to run some errands in Juanita Village and downtown Kirkland.  It seemed like the perfect example of infrastructure that is almost usable but tragically not.

First, let’s look at Bridle Trails to Juanita Village.  The shortest routes would be about 5 miles, which to be fair would generally have me looking for a closer destination.  Here’s a map of the area (ignore the routes other than the start/stop because Google has no clue what it’s doing here):

The most obvious route, which is roughly how one would drive it if not using I-405, is to start out west on 70th, drop down to Lake St., and then go over Market St to Juanita.  This doesn’t work because I’m unwilling to take the trailer on 70th, which is a rather wide minor arterial with bike lanes.  70th and Old Redmond Road are fairly popular for rides (especially commutes) but only because there isn’t anything better (and not by families).

Another route is to head north on the proposed South Rose Hill Greenway (130th/128th).  Other than the short stretch on 80th and crossing 85th, this starts nicely.  Unfortunately, the next step is to cross under I-405 on 116th, which Michelle has previously documented as a reason why we drive.  So that’s out.

Kirkland does, however, have a few great pieces of infrastructure: ped/bike bridges over I-405 and the Cross Kirkland Corridor (CKC).  And in fact I hardly went through the thought process above because these are how one bikes pretty much anywhere in Kirkland.  From Bridle Trails, another part of the proposed South Rose Hill Greenway heads towards the bridge at 80th.  Unfortunately, the actual connection isn’t done yet, so one has to use the existing facilities on 80th St or 116th Ave to approach.  80th St has bike lanes but is always a bit crazy with cars and turns.  116th has bike lanes but the northbound one (approaching the bridge) almost always has cars parked in it.  The southbound one is really wide (and no one wants to park on that side of the road), so I usually find myself riding the wrong way on it.  Plus, one has to cross at some point anyway to get to the bridge.  On this particular trip, I was fairly lucky with the parking and light traffic.  Then it’s down the hill to the CKC.

It would probably make sense to exit the CKC at 7th or 12th and head over to Market, though I wanted something quieter (more on Market later).  Unfortunately, after this the CKC turns north-east, adding distance to the route.  The (probably) quietest route back is Forbes Creek Dr, which of course heads back south, adding even more distance.  112th would probably be ok, but then I would have ended up on 116th.  If you look at the map, you’ll see that the CKC and Forbes Creek run quite near each other for a while, but there’s a hill and rough connections that I’ve only used on foot.  At the end of Forbes Creek, there are two options: head up scary four-lane 98th (more on this later too) or meander through the park.  I chose the later, which is a narrow paved trail that works as long as no one else is using it.  This leads to the Juanita Bay boardwalk, which then dumps you on a sidewalk.  After crossing Juanita Dr, I reached Juanita Village, where the roads are busy with cars so I rode up the sidewalk on 98th.  The bike parking was kind of far, so I locked to a fence of a restaurant that wasn’t open yet.  This route is closer to 7 miles.

The next stop was the Kirkland library.  By this point, I was late so I decided to take the direct route over Market.  I also saw that 98th had a bike lane, so I decided I would go straight along it rather than using the sidewalk/crosswalk/boardwalk/circuitous path.  This was a terrible mistake.  After the intersection with Juanita Dr, the bike lane inexplicably disappears until after the boardwalk entrance:

So there I was on a sharrow on a four lane road with a trailer.  And of course someone decided to rev their engine, squeal their breaks, zoom by, and yell “get the f*** off the road”, which is pretty much what the infrastructure was telling me too.  Market St is a door-and-sometimes-part-of-a-parked-car-zone bike lane, though like most parking in Kirkland most of it was empty.  I was able to time breaks in traffic to avoid the door zones and not get yelled at.

Last I had to actually get across Kirkland to the library.  We usually sneak in and out of the library from the east, avoiding the rest of downtown, but here I had no choice.  I wasn’t going to use Central Way, so I went through the Marina, waited for some drivers staring at parked cars, and took Kirkland Ave/Main St so that I could check out the new Park Lane.  I must admit I was rather underwhelmed.  It was nice that day since it was closed to cars, but it doesn’t look like the space devoted to cars vs people has changed at all.  The curbs are gone, and the roadway is brick (which should slow things down), but it’s still sidewalks that aren’t particularly large with a lane of traffic and angle parking.  So much car space.  On the bright side, with some tables and kids playing in the street space, it could someday be pretty nice.

After Park Lane I went through Peter Kirk Park to the library.  The narrow pathway meant I had to dismount when an elderly couple passed the other way, but it was preferable to going around on the roads.  Then back up the hill and across the 80th St bridge and home.

In the end, I got to ride to a few errands.  Stretches of the ride were quite pleasant.  I very much regret using the bike lane and being forced onto a sharrow on 98th.  In the future I think I will work harder to just avoid this trip and therefore all of the businesses in Juanita Village.  The biking distance plus the bad connections end up being too much.  I don’t want to drive those roads either.  Metro 245/255 is an option.  Like most of Bellevue, my best option is probably to run alone.  Or not go.

Returning to explore

When I got up this morning, I wasn’t planning a big bike adventure. I was planning to walk to our neighborhood park this morning after we were done with school. But then it became clear that a grocery store trip was in order, and I’d been wanting to go back to check out Carillon Woods Park, and if not today, than when? So off we went, to a new park and PCC.

It’s a nice park, with a nice playground, a climbing rock, and wooded area for exploring. I even found a staple-like sign to lock up the bike.


It’s a block off of 108th Ave, an arterial. But I’d seen a neighborhood street that ran parallel to 108th, so took that and found a big hill. I’m not sure what I will do next time – I don’t really want to ride 108th, but even assisted I don’t want to ride extra hills, either.

After our explorations, we were off to the grocery store. I was pleased to find the parking space next to the bike rack open, so… I took it, too. I felt a little bad using two parking spaces for one bike, but the only cargo bike-usable bike parking spot is really too close to the space for a car to be there also.


We loaded up, and went back home for lunch and naps.


I did make the 4yo walk up the corkscrew at 60th. This load is too big and this hill too steep even with a stokemonkey.

Michelle’s errandonnee #2-6

Hooray! The bike is back! And we’ve managed to fit in a whole lot of life-on-a-bike in the last two days.

Errand #2: meeting friends at the park

Possible categories: personal (family?) care, social call, arts & entertainment (hey, a park is entertainment!)

Distance: 3.5 miles, cumulative 5.5 miles

Kids toted: 4

Observations: The babies have really expanded their language skills since the last time they were on the bike. It’s really fun to have two more voices adding to the “wheeee!” when we go down the hill.

Errand #3: a meeting of my twin club

Possible categories: personal care, social call

Distance: 6 miles, cumulative 11.5 miles

Kids toted: none

Observations: I took the Cross Kirkland Corridor on the way there, and it was nice to see so many people out on this lovely evening. I haven’t yet found a bike rack at the church where we meet, so I rolled the bike inside the basement where the meeting rooms are. Coming home, it was dark, so I stayed on the streets. Crossing 85th St, I used the crosswalk button, and the 30-second countdown gave me plenty of time to get across. If I wait in the lane for the light to trigger, I can’t get through the intersection before the light is red.

Errand #4: failing to apply for passports

Possible categories: personal business

Observations: The kids and I met Mark in Redmond to apply for passports for our upcoming trip to Holland. But I forgot the checkbook, so we’ll get to do this errand again! There was a bike rack right next to the door of the courthouse (good job, Redmond!), but it was up against the wall like the racks at the library. I used the whole rack to get close enough sideways.

Errand #5: stopping by the bike shop to have the front brake adjusted

Possible categories: store, personal business (since we didn’t buy anything)

Observations: it’s hard to get this rig through a door of an old building. We got the trailer stuck and had to unhook it.

Errand #6: another park stop

Possible categories: personal care, arts & entertainment

Distance (for errands 4-6): 9 miles, cumulative 20.5

Kids toted (for errands 4-6): 4

Observations: I noted on the way down the hill that they were repaving the parking lot at Grass Lawn Park, and how it would be a perfect day to go there by bike, too bad we were too busy. We had some extra time with the failure of Errand #4, so we stopped to play on the way home.

Halfway there, errand-wise. 2/3 there, mileage wise! I am so glad to be back on my bike!